Newsflash: Women Reach Their Expiration Date at 20 (And 15-Year-Olds are Totally Hott)

This coming from this:

Somebody smells a little sour.

Posted in Beauty, Feminism | Tagged | 166 Comments

A Man’s Right to Choose

Oh Dalton Conley, I used to love you when I had you for Intro to Sociology. Why did you have to cross over to the dark side?

(I would pick this apart, but I’ve done it before.)

Posted in Reproductive Rights | Tagged | 68 Comments

The Underwear Oracle

Because outlining for Torts is getting old. And I *heart* underwear.

What Your Underwear Says About You

When you’re bad, you’re very bad. And when you’re good, you’re still trouble!

You’re sexy, in that pinup girl, tease sort of way.

Wow, the oracle is so right. How does it do that?!

Posted in Entertainment, Vanity | Tagged , | 26 Comments

New York State of Mind

I love this city, I really do. But seriously, what the hell is going on lately? First, we have the bedbugs. Then, there’s paying $430 a foot for air — in my neighborhood. Come on now — we really don’t need any more assholes living up here. Cindy Sheehan is riding the 6 train (sadly, I didn’t spot her myself, despite riding that godforsaken train at least twice a day). And now there’s this: the cops are going after the East Village and the Lower East Side, my favorite neighborhood. (You should ignore the picture that the Voice posts, as it appears to have been taken outside Libation, which is perhaps the worst lounge in the entire city and has no business on the LES).

On November 12, a combination of police, fire, and health and buildings inspectors (the dreaded MARCH—Multi-Agency Response to Community Hotspots) raided eight bars around the East Village, issuing 79 violations to six of them: Babel, Horus, Sutra, the Library, Rififi (Cinema Classics), and Rue B; Remote and Bar None escaped unticketed.

Not that I wish anyone harm, but if you’re gonna ticket someone, ticket fucking Bar None, NYU frat-boy hang-out and arguably the worst bar in the entire city (worse than Libation. Perhaps worse than Josie Woods and Finnerty’s). They have a dance floor, and if they don’t have a cabaret license, then I’d imagine that’s a problem (Yes, I got suckered into going there once. I was young and impressionable, and I learned my lesson). The cops should ticket the entirety of 3rd Avenue while they’re at it, and fine them extra for every guy in the bar wearing a TKE sweatshirt, every girl wearing Uggs, and every NYU freshman with a bad Jersey ID. Just leave the Dark Room, Max Fish, and the rest of the LES alone.

Plus, Staten Island still exists. Christ. At least there’s this.

In non-news, some people in the South still hate us and don’t want us at their universities. But they still love the confederate flag and mediocre wealthy white students.

Posted in Vanity | Tagged | 35 Comments

HELLP Syndrome for Beginners

This is the first news article I have ever seen on the illness that had me giving birth to a two-months-premature Ethan:

HELLP Syndrome is a little- known pregnancy-related disease that, if left untreated, can be life-threatening for both the mother and the fetus. HELLP stands for hemolysis, elevated liver enzyme levels and a low blood platelet count. It was not even coined until 1982, when researchers documented a recurring pattern of these three symptoms in pregnant women. In these patients, the body starts destroying red blood cells, liver functions go awry, and blood platelets essential for clotting plunge to dangerous levels.

HELLP Syndrome is classified as a more serious version of preeclampsia, and is a disease that sounds like regular pregnancy complaints that goes largely undetected by doctors due to being so unknown. The only cure for mom and baby is to give birth within three days, if that. My experience, being a pregnant teenager on Medicaid, ended up being near disastrous, in part because the doctors refused to do any tests and sent me home from the hospital three times in three days with instructions to drink some Maalox and stop being such a hypochondriac. Apparently this experience isn’t so unusual. For one, it happened to my sister, a married, monied professional, at a major birthing facility in Atlanta in the mid ’90s.

“If HELLP gets well advanced and it’s not managed well, it can lead to multi-organ failure” and even death, said Dr. James Martin, director of the division of maternal-fetal medicine and chief of obstetrics for the Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

While only 1 to 3 percent of HELLP patients die each year, 25 percent of all such patients suffer serious complications like fluid in the lungs, kidney failure and liver rupture — often as a result of delayed treatment or a misdiagnosis. Recent studies also suggest that women may be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

“We don’t understand the disease or how to prevent it,” said Dr. James Roberts, vice chairman for research in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and director of Magee-Women’s Research Institute. “The only way to help the woman is to deliver the baby.”

The good news: the last time I did any research, the stats were so all over the board that they estimated maternal death anywhere between 3-20%. I’ll take 1-3%, thanks.

After the whole ordeal, including a week-long stay in the hospital for me and a two-week stay for the wee one, I was told that I would probably have liver and kidney problems for as much as a decade after Ethan was born, as well as a lifelong tendency for anemia. Because HELLP is not a genetic disease, I am at a higher risk of getting it again in part because of my older sister’s experience (don’t ask me how that logic works, ask the OB-GYN that informed me). Additionally, as the doctor told me, my own death must be part of that consideration. Having more children in the future will be a major risk, should I decide to do so, and a choice that must be planned very carefully in advance — hence my selfish obsession with reproductive health rights and accessibility. I don’t want to go dying on anybody, especially the child I have.

Posted in Health, Reproductive Rights | Tagged | 15 Comments

Alito, Abortion, and the Future of Roe

Lots and lots going on this week in the reproductive rights arena. Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood is being argued right now, and is virtually guaranteed to have a major impact on the future of reproductive rights — if only to tell us how closely the Roberts court is willing to honor precedent. I wrote a little bit about this case yesterday, but there are still a few points that I think need clarification. At issue is a New Hampshire abortion statute that has not yet been instituted. The statute requires parental notification and a 48-hour waiting period after that. It has an exception for life-threatening conditions, but not for health conditions, despite the fact that a 2000 Supreme Court ruling requires that abortion restrictions have an out for the pregnant woman’s health. The Bush administration supports the law, but their reasoning seems a bit flawed:

Solicitor General Paul Clement, arguing for the Bush administration on behalf of the New Hampshire law, said critics of the New Hampshire statute had focused on “a one in a thousand” circumstance in which a teen-ager might need an abortion quickly, and that the entire statute should not be undone.

All sides agree that circumstances in which a minor needs an abortion for emergent health reasons are rare. But does rarity justify the upholding of a law that could potentially cause serious harm, even if that harm only affects a handful of people? What’s the threshold at which we decide “enough” women will be affected — 100? 1,000?

The statute includes a judicial bypass option, in which a minor with an emergent health-threatening condition can get permission from a judge to get around the parental consent and waiting period. But, as the attorney for Planned Parenthood argued, ” “Once a minor arrives in the emergency room, it is too late for her to go to court.”

That point was met by a fairly creative proposal from Justice Scalia:

Justice Antonin Scalia wondered what would happen if the state created “a special office, open 24 hours a day” to field just such emergencies: ” ‘This is the abortion judge.’ It takes 30 seconds to place a phone call.”

Or, we can just let doctors do their jobs. If a teenage girl comes into the emergency room with a condition that will leave her sterile unless she has an abortion right away, let her doctor perform the procedure. How will telephoning a judge, who probably has no medical background and little ability in a 30-second phone call to determine the exact circumstances, be at all helpful or even practical?

This seems fairly simple to me. If New Hampshire wants to keep their statute, fine — just toss in a health exception. I don’t like parental notification laws, but the Court has ruled them constitutional and not unduly burdensome if they include a judicial bypass and a health/life exception. It’s not asking so much that New Hampshire stick to that standard, and that the Bush administration and conservative state governments not use the physical health of minor women to gain political capitol or make a point about their anti-choice beliefs.

In other news, let there be no doubt about how Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito feels about Roe: He wants it overturned. From a 1985 document:

Alito wrote in the memo, released by the National Archives on Wednesday, that ”no one seriously believes that the court is about to overrule Roe v. Wade.”

But, he said, ”By taking these cases, the court may be signaling an inclination to cut back. What can be made of this opportunity to advance the goals of bringing about the eventual overruling of Roe v. Wade and, in the meantime, of mitigating its effects?”

Well that clears that up.

I found this article via Amanda, and it’s another must- must- MUST-read. It’s a woman’s story of her D&E abortion, the procedure that the “partial-birth” abortion ban would have made illegal. These procedures, as the article details, are already incredibly difficult to access. This is another one of those abortion-related things (like the New Hampshire law) that affects a very tiny minority of women; yet its impact on those women can be tremendous. Read the article, and consider the women who find themselves in similar situations, but whose fetuses aren’t dead — those women whose fetuses have birth defects that are incompatible with life, like anencephaly. Should the “partial-birth” abortion ban be upheld, these women will no longer have access to what they and their doctors may deem the safest procedure for them.

And finally, a TimesSelect article about the waning power of Roe v. Wade. It is fantastic, and an absolute must-read. Because it’s TimesSelect, I’ll paste it below:
Continue reading

Posted in Reproductive Rights | Tagged , , | 44 Comments

Von’s: Thar She Blows

Well, there goes the last great independent bookseller in town. Again.

Von’s, a campus staple, was known for its great selection of new and used books, CDs, and craft supplies. Locally owned and reasonably priced, it featured music from the popular to the obscure, and satisifed obscure label whores like me and mine. Recently the boyfriend talked to a friend in Olympia, the punk rock Mecca of the northwest, who lamented that there wasn’t a place like Von’s in her area. Originally from Lafayette, she was amazed that this town, of all places, had a cultural gem like this particular bookstore.

So without Von’s, what?

Books: Borders, Barnes & Noble, and if you’re feeling brave enough to venture into the crap mall, Waldenbooks. Used books? The last place in town with non-textbook used books closed this year.

CDs: Borders, Barnes & Noble, and the overpriced local retail stores that pale in comparison.

Crafts: Other than my fav yarn shop, JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, and Michael’s.

Noticing a trend? We have, for the most part, lost the last independent, DIY cultural anchor in town. They rebuilt after a fire in 1995, but because this property has been targeted as a potential site for future univeristy projects, we speculate that the owners will take the money and retire from the business. Strictly conjecture.

Then again, if Harry’s Chocolate Shop (a nationally recognized historical bar) goes under, expect widespread student and alumni protest. God forbid we burn the alcohol, let the books go.
Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Music | 28 Comments

I *Heart* Anderson Cooper

Seriously, what a babe. And now that he has his own column, I love him even more. I love him even despite his “Of course I’m straight!” posturing, like in this piece where he talks about what his mom (Gloria Vanderbilt), who just wrote her memoir, taught him about sex.

It’s taken me a while to adjust, but I think I’ve finally gotten used to the notion of my mom as a hottie.

When I suggested she take the whole cunnilingus thing out of the book, she just laughed and told me I should have a sense of humor about it.

She’s right, of course, and that’s the most embarrassing thing of all. I’m 37 and my mom is still able to teach me something about sex.

a) You’re 37. Don’t use the word “hottie.”
b) By writing about cunnilingus, your mom taught you something about sex? Anderson, please, drop the charade…
c) It’s ok. I love you anyway.

Perhaps my dear Mr. Cooper would enjoy some of this fine literature.

(Bad sex scenes in fiction via Amanda. Anderson’s commentary via Gawker).

Posted in Literature | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

Hey, Retarded Homo AIDS Spreaders: Quit Making Me Be PC!

I wish I could have made up that insult all on my own, but I didn’t. It comes from a massive boo-hoo from a poor oppressed white guy who really doesn’t like it when you ask him not to call you the n-word — you’re limiting his right to free speech! Or something. He’s not quite sure.

The best part of the article is when he actually argues that “PC chokes off normal human expression by strangling natural speech, dividing humanity into imaginary classes, pitting races against each other, and polarizing politics.” So… the ideology that racial slurs and sexually harassing comments probably aren’t appropriate in the workplace or classroom pits the races against eachother and divides humanity into classes? Ok, I see his point. It was a whole lot easier when white guys were unquestionably at the top, and all the bitches and the coloreds knew their place.

He also goes the mature route of being politically incorrect in the column itself — because see, political incorrectness is great! And it’s funny!

So don’t go calling me racist, sexist, ageist, lookist, ableist, or heightist – especially if you’re some pipsqueak runt – because I’ll punch your lights out, you retarded hick.

(See, I thought that hicks voted Republican and hated political correctness too. I guess you learn something new every day).

In the good old USA, we celebrated diversity. That phrase is now just code for the idea that we should be happy to have millions of wrecked, fatherless families producing legions of very un-gay homosexuals spreading AIDS.

Yes, remember back in the day, when we had real diversity in places like public pools, water fountains, and lunch counters? You could just look at the signs — “Coloreds Only” — and see how unique and diverse the country really was. Now, because we aren’t allowed to call them negroes and coloreds without getting dirty looks, and because we can’t sexually harass women with impunity, they’ve gotten all out of hand and have started producing homosexuals by the bushel (and by the way, what is an un-gay homosexual? I really don’t get it. Does he mean “unhappy”?).

The whole “Being PC has ruined America!” argument is a little silly. Can I see how people would get tired of being super-sensitive to every little thing? Sure. But generally, I think most “PC” language just falls under the heading of basic manners and social skills. Using racial slurs, claiming that AIDS is a gay disease and sexually harassing people is generally considered rude — it’s not like liberals are going around slapping you on the wrist every time you call someone a retard, but it’s not considered acceptable in polite company. (And there are plenty of places where rude, un-PC language and actions thrive). It’s also not a violation of your free speech if I tell you that I’m offended by what you say — we’re both exercising our rights there. But when the rest of the argument is so backwards, I guess I can’t expect that this author would be able to grasp such a basic concept.

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Fundraiser for the New York Abortion Access Fund

Wednesday, November 30th, 6-8pm at Beauty Bar (231 East 14th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues). Suggested donation is $20, but give what you can.

A blurb from the organization:

During this holiday season, please help women who need your financial support to make the decisions that are right for their lives. Without abortion funds, the right to abortion is meaningless for many women. Please support the New York Abortion Access Fund, an all-volunteer non-profit which provides financial assistance to low-income women who cannot afford to pay for an abortion.

This really is an important cause. Women come from all over the East coast to have abortions in New York City, usually because of the restrictive anti-choice laws in their own states (for more about some of the women this fund helps, see this article about the Haven Coalition. Or this one). The fund is always depleted, and there are always more women who need help. In volunteering with the Haven Coalition, I’ve met some these women — they show up in New York broke, scared, and having spent every penny they have on transportation, the procedure itself, and often childcare for their kids, who they have to leave at home. They don’t have a place to stay, and are prepared to sleep on a park bench or in the bus station while they undergo their procedures (the women who Haven helps are typically in New York for second-trimester abortions, which take 2-3 days). Haven finds them a bed to sleep in, and the New York Abortion Fund helps them pay for what can be a $2,000 ordeal.

The right to choose is meaningless if only middle and upper-income women, or women in the bluest states, have access to it.

If you don’t live in New York, or if you can’t make it to the event and want to help out anyway, you can make donations to the fund here. Please help out if you can.

Posted in Reproductive Rights | Tagged | 3 Comments

Repro Rights Round-Up

Lots going on this week. Check it out.

Offering Abortion, Rebirth
: A profile of one Arkansas abortion provider who started practicing soon after Roe.

Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England will bring the abortion issue back before the Supreme Court. The case challenges a yet-to-be-applied New Hampshire law that requires 48-hour parental notice for abortion, without a health exception — so if a minor woman has a medical emergency that will, for example, make her sterile or blind but won’t kill her, she cannot have an abortion if her parents haven’t been notified. The second question in the case is whether or not the court can even rule on it, since it hasn’t been applied and therefore hasn’t caused injury to any individual.

While that second question is trickier, the first issue seems pretty clear to me: The Supreme Court already ruled that restrictions on abortion must have a health exception. Let’s see how much the new justice(s) actually value precedent when these cases come up.

File under worst repro rights decision the Bush administration has made in at least the past month: Extended the Global Gag Rule to HIV/AIDS prevention programs. This is one of those things that I read and just feel my heart sink. For the unfamiliar, the Global Gag Rule is a policy instituted by Bush on his first day in office (after being first instituted by Reagon, kept in by Bush I, and removed by Clinton) which bars funding to any organization abroad that (1) mentions abortion as an option for women, (2) provides abortions with its own non-U.S. money, or (3) lobbies its own government for reproductive rights. U.S. money never pays for abortions abroad, and has been legally barred from doing so since 1973. So that’s not the issue. I’ve written about the Gag Rule before, so check out that post for statistics and information on just how harmful the rule is.

And now it’s been extended to any organzation that provides HIV/AIDS relief as well. What the Bush administration seems to be ignoring is the fact that in rural areas and developing nations, there isn’t a hospital, a family planning clinic, and an NGO offering HIV/AIDS information all operated by separate groups in separate buildings. There’s often a single clinic serving an entire population, offering medical treatment, HIV/AIDS information, family planning tools, and reproductive health services. Now that this rule is in place, that clinic either has to refuse to give women information about where they can obtain safe abortions or face having their HIV/AIDS-prevention funding pulled. If clinic workers lobby for reproductive rights in their own country, their AIDS funding is cut. If clinic workers warn women about the dangers of unsafe, self-procured abortions, their AIDS funding is cut.

And what do self-procured abortions look like in developing nations? According to Hilary Fyfe, whose abstinence-based HIV prevention group Family Life Movement in Zambia lost $30,000 in U.S. funding due to Bush’s policies, she sees women procuring abortions by “swallowing pounded glass, pushing sharp needles or other unsafe instruments through their uterus, pushing poisonous substances up their vaginas like cuttings from trees or roots, drinking bleach mixed with glass, or overdosing on malaria pills.” She sees it every day.

Gotta love this “culture of life” — its mighty warriors care all about “life” right up until the moment of birth. Then, go ahead and be killed by preventable and treatable disease, die or main yourself with a botched abortion, or literally rot with an obstetric fistula. It’s personal responsibility after all.

Posted in Reproductive Rights | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

School: Future Writing

I’m hoping to be able to sit down and hack out a few good posts on my student teaching experience in the next two weeks now that it is beginning to draw to a close. I have a few posts sitting in draft mode, and some that I have bouncing around my head, but I figured I would list some topics that I’m interested in covering to probe my audience.

Knowing vs. Having Fun
Student Ability (Observations and Accommodations)
Curriculum, Standards and Approaches
The Evolution of my Personal Pedagogy
Teen Sexuality and Deviance in the Classroom
Girl Pants, Carhart, and Student Identity
Reading and Writing vs. Studying Literature (big difference, if you ask me)
Teacher Morale, Student Morale

Let me know what you’re interested in reading in the comments. If you have any further questions or topics you’d like me to discuss, leave them below and I’ll attempt to address them as my time begins to free up.

Tagged | 20 Comments